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Tiger beetle

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An Australian species of the flightless family Cicindelinae, first described in 1997, which is the fastest-running known insect, hence the nickname tiger beetle. Rivacindela hudsoni are typically found in saline habitats such as dry salt lakes and salt streams. The species has an adult form of approximately 20–21mm (0.79–0.83 inches) in length and a running speed of 2.49m/s, or 120 body lengths per second.

Like all insects, the Rivacindela hudsoni has three tagmata in its adult form. These segments include the head, abdomen and a patterned thorax onto which six thin, uniramous appendages and two pairs of vestigial wings are attached. The beetle’s forewings are hardened to form a protective layer known as the elytra and are fused to the hindwings. The species has two large eyes that together make the head wider than the thorax, underneath which a pair of filiform antennae are attached. Surrounding the mouth is the labrum, onto which sharp projections and maxillae are attached next to a pair of sickle-like mandibles with both compound and simple teeth arranged along its length.

They have been observed to run in a zig-zag pattern which is closely followed by long, fast straight lines. When running straight, the R. hudsoni were observed to run faster than any other recorded insect at 2.5m/s or 125 body lengths every second. However, it has been observed that at high speeds, tiger beetles experience temporary blindness when chasing prey. This is because the beetle cannot gather enough photons that reflect its prey to form an image of it, resulting in a stop-start mode of hunting made affordable by the its high speeds.

Tiger beetle - © Attention Deficit Disorder Prosthetic Memory Program
Tiger beetle - © Attention Deficit Disorder Prosthetic Memory Program
Tiger beetle - © Attention Deficit Disorder Prosthetic Memory Program
Tiger beetle - © Attention Deficit Disorder Prosthetic Memory Program
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